Sunday, August 24, 2008

Age of shroud of Turin disputed again

A Times of London story......

......A LEADING expert on the shroud of Turin has won the support of an Oxford University laboratory for new carbon dating tests on the venerated but controversial relic, which was dismissed two decades ago as a fake. ......

.....John Jackson, a physicist at Colorado University and a prominent expert on the relic, has argued that the tests were skewed by 1,300 years because of high levels of carbon monoxide. He said many other elements of the shroud, including details of the image, indicate that it is much more ancient......

Turin shroud controversy envelops pair

A Seattle Times Story...

.....Raised in Brooklyn, Rebecca Jackson, 60, was 34 when she decided to enlist in the Army and ended up at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, as a cook.

In 1990, she was watching a documentary on the shroud when it occurred to her that the image of the man's face looked like her grandfather's. She tracked down Jackson, who had appeared in the film and lived in Colorado Springs, to talk about her reaction. Their shared interest led to a relationship. Her religious conversion followed..........

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

For Most People, College Is a Waste of Time

Wall Street Journal
August 13, 2008; Page A17

Imagine that America had no system of post-secondary education, and you were a member of a task force assigned to create one from scratch. One of your colleagues submits this proposal:

First, we will set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take four years to achieve no matter what is being taught. We will attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned. We will urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them. We will stigmatize everyone who doesn't meet the goal. We will call the goal a "BA."

You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane. But that's the system we have in place.

Finding a better way should be easy. The BA acquired its current inflated status by accident. Advanced skills for people with brains really did get more valuable over the course of the 20th century, but the acquisition of those skills got conflated with the existing system of colleges, which had evolved the BA for completely different purposes.

Outside a handful of majors -- engineering and some of the sciences -- a bachelor's degree tells an employer nothing except that the applicant has a certain amount of intellectual ability and perseverance. Even a degree in a vocational major like business administration can mean anything from a solid base of knowledge to four years of barely remembered gut courses....[more]

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How Our Culture Keeps Students Out of Science

An opinion piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education.


  • "the shortage of Americans holding or pursuing advanced degrees in fields like computer science defies conventional market explanations. The average annual salary in the field is more than $100,000. Meanwhile, we have a robust supply of high-IQ baristas and college graduates with jobs that a generation ago would not even have required a high-school diploma."
  • "Students respond more profoundly to cultural imperatives than to market forces. In the United States, students are insulated from the commercial market's demand for their knowledge and skills."
  • "Success in the sciences unquestionably takes a lot of hard work, sustained over many years. Students usually have to catch the science bug in grade school and stick with it to develop the competencies in math and the mastery of complex theories they need to progress up the ladder. Those who succeed at the level where they can eventually pursue graduate degrees must have not only abundant intellectual talent but also a powerful interest in sticking to a long course of cumulative study."
  • "on the emotional level, contemporary American education sides with the obstacles. It begins by treating children as psychologically fragile beings who will fail to learn — and worse, fail to develop as "whole persons" — if not constantly praised. The self-esteem movement may have its merits, but preparing students for arduous intellectual ascents aren't among them. What the movement most commonly yields is a surfeit of college freshmen who "feel good" about themselves for no discernible reason and who grossly overrate their meager attainments."
  • "The intellectual lassitude we breed in students, their unearned and inflated self-confidence, undercuts both the self-discipline and the intellectual modesty that is needed for the apprentice years in the sciences."

Monday, August 04, 2008

Wall Street Journal's Rankings of Colleges and Universities

As you can guess it's by income. By university, by major.

A few western/northwestern universities

School Name


Starting Median Salary

Mid-Career Median Salary

Mid-Career 10th Percentile Salary

Mid-Career 25th Percentile Salary

Mid-Career 75th Percentile Salary

Mid-Career 90th Percentile Salary

Boise State University (BSU)








Idaho State University








University of Idaho








Washington State University (WSU)








Utah State University








Gonzaga University








Montana State University - Bozeman








New Mexico State








University of Arizona








University of Montana








University of Washington (UW)








University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)








University of Nevada, Reno (UNR)








University of New Mexico (UNM)








University of Oregon








Oregon State University (OSU)